The way of all things

File:Tree on a hill at Bet She'an National Park, Israel.jpg

In a dark time, the eye begins to see

 Roethke, In a Dark Time

A day like Good Friday bears witness to a truth that runs through all the different wisdom traditions, namely, that the times when we are challenged and hurt are often the moments when we grow the most. Thus  places of darkness are difficult and fruitful at the same time. This truth needs to be remembered in a culture that focuses on perpetual youth, continual progress and ongoing self-improvement: :

Life may be brimming over with experiences,

but somewhere, deep inside,

all of us carry a vast and fruitful loneliness wherever we go.

Etty Hillesum

photo mark 10:43

How we hold things

File:Inviting rope swing at placid Chickadee Lake.jpg

There is a Tibetan parable that says if we put a tablespoon of salt in a glass of water and drink it, the water will taste terrible and bitter. But if we were to stir that same tablespoon of salt into an enormous, clear blue mountain lake, the water in the lake would remain sweet; we would not taste the salt at all.  The problem, the Tibetans say, is not the salt we are given. The real problem is how spacious is the container into which the salt is poured.

The question is not, never, ever, whether or not we will be given challenges and limitations. We will. The question is, how we will hold them, how will we be changed, how will they shape us, what will we bring to the healing of them, what, if anything,  will be born in its place?

Wayne Muller, A life of being, having, and doing enough

photo randy storey


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Other faces


Now I become myself.

It’s taken Time, many years and places;

I have been dissolved and shaken, Worn other people’s faces,

Run madly, as if Time were there, Terribly old, crying a warning,

“Hurry, you will be dead before—”

(What? Before you reach the morning? Or the end of the poem is clear?

Or love safe in the walled city?)

Now to stand still, to be here, Feel my own weight and density!…

My work, my love, my time, my face gathered into one intense

Gesture of growing like a plant…

Now there is time and Time is young.

O, in this single hour I live All of myself and do not move.

I, the pursued, who madly ran, Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

May Sarton, Now I become Myself

This day, stay in the present

File:Huangshan, China (YELLOW MOUNTAIN-LANDSCAPE) VIII (1061671042).jpg

Staying solidly rooted in the here and now, and in the body, like a mountain, and not in the storylines in our heads about our life and about others:

When you look at experience directly, it’s obvious that all we are or have is happening right now. Our memories happen now, and the results of what we’ve been involved with happen now. Our project scenarios for the future happen now and our actions –  whose consequences may happen in the future –  happen now. Furthermore, our awareness of this state of affairs, feelings about and responses to all that – happen now.

And yet there is a current in the mind that creates a felt identity who was, is and will be. Rolling on its surface are worries and expectations about what I will be, regret about what I was. An idea may form: “Having been this, surely I deserve to become that”;  or its negative form ” I’ve never been this, so I’ll never become one of those”. There’s a lot of drama and suffering and stress in this flood….

Since I only have pictures of what I was, and stories of what I might or will be, can I be clear as to who I am now?

When we give full attention to the present – in the focus that should surely give us the clearest,  most stable impression of who we are – we find that the images break up, like reflections in a stream poked with a finger. And as those images break up, all the weight, the need, the anxiety, suddenly sinks with no footing.

Ajahn Sucitto, Parami: Ways to Cross Life’s Floods

photo chi king